FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fox Island County Park is still feeling the damage caused from last week’s storms. What was once a beautiful nature park is now a wasteland of fallen trees and debris.
Jeff Baxter, Superintendent of Allen County Parks, said 800 to 1,000 trees at the southwest-side nature park were brought down in the June 13 derecho. Many more are hanging on by their last limbs.
The park remains closed to the public.
“It’s sad to see this many trees come down at one time. Nature takes its course on a lot of things and trees will come down,” Baxter said.
Because so many trees fell, Fox Island staff will have to take special measures in how they get the park back to normal.
“We’ll have to selectively remove some of the trees. The first line of business is to get some of the trails and roadways open to get emergency vehicles in here,” Baxter said.
They also plan to get a drone in the air to observe the rest of the damage throughout the park. There are areas that the workers haven’t been able to get to yet that they want to see, he explained.
Baxter said the park could lean on the community to help with the clean up.
“Until we get a handle on how much damage there is and how we are going to deal with it, there will probably come a point where we are going to have volunteer days where if you’re approved by us to be in here, they can drag limbs and get chippers going,” Baxter said.
Every day that guests and visitors don’t enter the park, Fox Island loses money.
“Salaries are the only tax dollars we get. The rest of it we generate from revenue from either entry fees, programming, or rentals of the facilities. Right now we can’t do any of that. We are losing money every day on Fox Island,” Baxter said.
The lake at Fox Island is a big draw for swimmers, and its closure alone will have a large impact on revenue, he said.
Baxter said the the goal is to have Fox Island open to guests by the middle of July.
There is a bright side to the damage. Baxter said there are pockets in Fox Island that haven’t seen day light in probably 100 years that are now filled with light after tall trees fell.